EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: ‘Hellraiser’ Co-Writer Christopher Monfette!

With all of the hype surrounding the recently released first issue of “HELLRAISER” from BOOM! Studios it would be easy to shrug off the series as just another haphazard attempt to bring back a classic horror icon in the illustrated form only to disappoint fans everywhere. Luckily, this is not the case for the Clive Barker and Christopher Monfette penned monthly, and I was fortunate enough to chat with Christopher earlier this week about his work on the series, collaborating with Clive Barker, how to restore fans faith in the series, and even the possibility of new Cenobites. Read on for the skinny!

THEoDEAD:”First of all, Christopher, thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us. Before we get started and jump directly into “HELLRAISER”, I should ask you how you got started on the project? How did you get signed on for such a huge endeavor?”

Christopher Monfette:“I’d worked with Clive a number of times before, adapting two of his shorts stories into feature films – Down, Satan and Son of Celluloid. Prior to Hellraiser, we had collaborated on a very surreal one-off for IDW called Seduth, presented in 3-D and illustrated by the immaculately gifted Gabriel Rodriguez, whose work on Locke and Key I’ve always found stunning. So imagine how fortunate I was, having worked with such incredible talent on my first comic venture, suddenly having the opportunity to work with Leonardo Manco on my second…”

THEoDEAD:”For you personally, getting to work alongside and share part of a writing credit with such a legend as Clive, it must have been quite an honor. What is the creative process working with Clive like, especially on a story with such a ravenous fan-base, and doing so with the creator of said following?”

Christopher Monfette:“Clive has always been an incredible collaborator. He’s exceptionally generous and consistently open to new ideas, but always involved, always lending his fierce creativity to the process. I think we both went into this endeavor with an extraordinary amount of trust. Clive had a number of elements and themes that were important to him, and as a fan of the first two films in the series, I had a very strong narrative sense of how we might simultaneously conclude the core narrative and evolve the series into something even greater and more terrifying. So the end result is really a marriage of those ideas with Clive presiding over my scripts and challenging the entire team to push the boundaries of creativity and acceptability.”

THEoDEAD:”Breathing new life into this franchise, as we have seen with recent films, is not an easy thing to do. There have been a lot of slip-ups over the years, and many fans have lost faith in the films. So, that being said – how did you set out to regain that trust and that faith in the series?”

Christopher Monfette:“As a life-long horror fan, I’ve grown up in an age where I’ve watched cinematic exhaustion descend upon my favorite franchises, my favorite characters – Freddy Kruger, Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees. And especially Pinhead. I’ve witnessed these icons of the genre become one-note jokes, and I’ve mourned the fact that Hollywood consistently fails to make them significant through poorly conceived reboots and sequels…It was important to me that we somehow acknowledge that exhaustion in Hellraiser, that Pinhead be just as weary as we’ve become, a character who’s murdered to the point where murder is meaningless…In that, there was a way to honor the roots of the series while giving Pinhead a fascinating motivation – to escape from Hell, to attempt redemption, but in the most corrupt and Hellish way possible. And I think that including Kirsty as the pawn – or rather, the Queen – in his demonic chess game was a way to communicate to fans that we’re picking up at the point where the series faltered.”

THEoDEAD:”Thus far, with what we have seen in the first issue and the subsequent prequel, we can expect to see a lot of the signature blood, guts, and darkness that are staples of the series and helped make it such a well known property in the industry. For new readers, or even new fans who haven’t ever seen all the films, where does the book begin in reference to the established story? Is there a standing continuity to the films (or even the past comics), or is your “HELLRAISER” completely independent from the past work outside of the original story from Clive?”

Christopher Monfette:“Our cannon for this story is primary the first and second films, the closest to Clive’s original vision for the series. Where and when we can incorporate other elements from the subsequent movies or the Epic comics, we’re happy to do that, but in the interest of telling the best, most effective story, we don’t want to be slavish to those things. In a sense, this is the third film that fans never got, offered nearly three decades later. Hopefully, it’s presented in such a way that new readers can also join our journey into Hell with reasonable clarity…But once we get there, once this story plays out, we’ll all be moving forward into unexplored and terrifying territory together…”

THEoDEAD:”What can readers expect from “HELLRAISER”? Where do you plan to take the series down the road?”

Christopher Monfette:“Right now, we have an eight-issue arc mapped out that’ll take us to a huge turning point in the Hellraiser mythology, an event which will force readers to see Kirsty, Pinhead and even Hell itself in a very new light…Or darkness, rather…Our hope isn’t too reboot or re-imagine the series, but to evolve it, to follow it forward into something that’ll invite new readers and diehard fans into a violent, sprawling and character-driven story.”

THEoDEAD:”Can we expect new Cenobites, and if so, what can you tell us about them? Will more of the series’ past characters make any cameos?”

Christopher Monfette:“Without stumbling into wild spoilers, readers can absolutely expect a few new Cenobites along the way – some traditional, and some not so traditional. Fans looking to see what kind of creatures we have in store should definitely pick up issues #2 and #3.”

THEoDEAD:”In closing what would you say to fans (old, new, or future) to try and convince them to pick up your “HELLRAISER”?”

Christopher Monfette:“At the heart of all great horror is drama. If you care about your story, your cast, then all the violence, all the suspense, all the horrific, bizarre imagery will pull an audience into the nightmare and refuse to let them wake. Our hope is that by making Pinhead a true character, by exploring Kirsty’s personal damage, her obsession, we’ll heighten the horror and offer something new and challenging and thoughtful to new fans and old. If you’re a diehard Hellrasier enthusiast, this will answer a number of questions and continue the story of the characters you love. If you’re a new reader, then reach out and take the torch. We’re passing it to you before we head even deeper into Hell. Either way, prepare to be scared.”

EXTRA CREDIT QUESTIONS

THEoDEAD:”What is your favorite film in the “HELLRAISER” franchise, outside of the original?”

Christopher Monfette:“Hellbound, by far, although I do have a soft spot for the third film. There’s just something so visually insane about Hellbound. It feels very close to the work of Argento or Fulci in moments, and that’s a great flavor to bring to a franchise like this.”

THEoDEAD:”Favorite Cenobite?”

Christopher Monfette:“I love Chatterer. There’s just something about the look of him that continually creeps me out. He’s just a walking aesthetic, nothing more – so simple, so scary.”

THEoDEAD:”Favorite franchise kill?”

Christopher Monfette:“It’s not so much a kill as a moment, but the series of objects that emerge from the palm of Channard’s hand at the end of Hellbound never fails to disturb me…”

We would like to thank Christopher for taking the time to sit down and talk with us. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out the totally free prequel issue of “HELLRAISER”, “AT THE TOLLING OF A BELL”, here (Review), and keep it locked here at Graphic Content as we continue to bring you more exclusive content from BOOM! and the rest of the “HELLRAISER” crew.